Ode. Intimations Of Immortality From Recollections Of Early Childhood "The Rainbow Comes And Goes"

William Wordsworth

"The Rainbow Comes And Goes"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: In his most famous ode Wordsworth consciously used what he termed "the notion of preexistence of the human soul" in order to develop poetically the idea that as we grow from infancy into childhood and youth and finally into maturity we lose our sense of the freshness and radiance in our existence. The poet himself was briefly grieved when he discovered his own sense of loss, but the grief was banished by "a timely utterance," and again it seems that "all the earth is gay." He feels the fullness of earth's bliss as he looks about him and listens. Yet he is aware of "something that is gone." Where has it fled? At physical birth our soul trails "clouds of glory" brought from its home with God, but this glory is soon forgotten. The earth even encourages this forgetting "with pleasures of her own." But we do not forget entirely. Even when we have traveled far beyond our infancy, we have momentary glimpses of "that immortal sea" on whose shore we "see the Children sport." Thus we will rejoice that, "Though nothing can bring back the hour/ Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower," we will be strengthened by our bond with eternity, our love for suffering man, our "faith that looks through death," and the growth of our philosophic minds. The poet's present love of Nature surpasses that of his youth because, through his sympathy with other men, even the sight of a simple flower can bring "Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears." In the second stanza of his ode, Wordsworth lists the beauties of the earth and then sadly speaks of the glory that has gone:

The Rainbow comes and goes,
And lovely is the Rose,
The Moon doth with delight
Look round her when the heavens are bare;
Waters on a starry night
Are beautiful and fair;
The sunshine is a glorious birth;
But yet I know, where'er I go,
That there hath passed away a glory from the earth.